Disease forces felling of famous Coole Park trees

Trees to be felled in Coole Park
Coole Park ... trees to go

A line of Monterey cypress trees at Coole Park are to be felled next week for safety reasons following a recent inspection which showed they were diseased.

Many who enjoy walking in Coole Park will be familiar with the trees which provide a shaded walk and were planted in the early thirties.

The decision to fell the trees came after tree surgeons revealed that the trees were in an unsafe condition, that a fungal infection had been identified and that some of them had been damaged by storms earlier this year.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht has confirmed this decision and work on the felling will start on September 1.

Dr Enda Mooney, from the NPWS said: ‘Regular visitors to Coole Park will be familiar with the line of mature Monterey cypress trees that runs along the path that connects the site of Coole House to Coole turlough’.

“The existing line of trees forms a shaded, arched walkway for visitors to the site and many people will closely associate these trees with the Nature Reserve. News that they must be felled will come as a disappointment, therefore, to locals and visitors. However, the NPWS cannot ignore the safety concerns identified by the tree surgeons who recently inspected the trees.

“The trees were also left damaged by the severe storms of last spring. In the interest of public safety, we must regrettably proceed with felling the trees.”

In order to ensure the safety of the general public, there will be some restrictions on access to this section of Coole/Garryland Nature Reserve while the trees are being removed.

These will include restrictions to access to the outside toilets at Coole, and the path from the former site of Coole House to the Coole River.  It is hoped that other trails will remain open.  Visitors will be able to make use of the other toilets in the nature reserve, located in the visitor centre.  The work is expected to take about one week to complete.

Coole Park, the former home of Lady Gregory and centre of the Irish literary revival and now a nature reserve, is a popular visitor attraction for both locals and tourists.

The Monterey trees were planted sometime after 1932 by the Forest Service, after the Coole estate was taken into State ownership from the Gregory family.

Lady Gregory’s two grand-daughters who lived with her at Coole, recalled that when they lived there, a wire fence existed along the boundary that is now occupied by the trees.

A tree nursery was established, at the back of Coole house around that time.  It is likely that the cypress trees were planted as a shelter belt for the nursery.